MK Dons can confirm the latest intake of scholars for the 2020/21 season.
Ryan Holmes, Brooklyn Ilunga, Lewis Johnson, Charlie Smith have begun their two-year apprenticeship period, which will enable them to continue their development with MK Dons.
They join Joshua Bailey, Malaki Black, Tom Carter, Max Crane, Jack Davies, Rio Deall, James Holmes, Tali Jallow, Tom Rowley and Harry Riley to form the Dons’ Under-18s side for the 2020/21 campaign.
“The first-years have really hit the ground running,” Academy manager Jon Goodman told mkdons.com.
“We haven’t taken many on this season, partly because we had a large number last season but also because we had a high criteria of what we were looking for.
“Each player is athletically capable and has a strong identity as a player. They have been a breath of fresh air in training and have really set a real benchmark in terms of their fitness levels, despite the long break.
“They’ve taken on board all the information that we’ve given them and they’ve supporting each other through this initial stage. Although they have their own individual aspirations, they need to support each other to be able to improve.
“We look forward to supporting them as they continue their developmental journeys over the next two years.”
Lead Professional Development Phase Coach Lee Collier added: “They’ve all been in the system for quite long time so they are used to the philosophy we’re trying to build in the Academy.
“It’s going to be a difficult transition and it’s certainly not a straight and simple run to the finishing line of becoming a professional footballer, but we’ve been pleased with the start they’ve made.
“The first task is getting them up to speed of the demands of being in a full-time environment. We’ve been impressed, over the last couple of weeks, how they’ve steadily started to build towards that.”
Ryan Holmes - Forward
Lee Collier: “Ryan is your stereotypical number 9 – he’s a big and strong centre forward, who is a good finisher off both sides. That said, he’s got a lot more than that to his game. He’s quite inventive with the ball at his feet and he’s a very intelligent boy. He wants to learn and ask questions.”
Brooklyn Ilunga – Winger
Lee Collier: “Brooklyn is an explosive winger who is physically strong and good with the ball at his feet. He’s very direct and thrives in one-v-one situations. For us, it’s about working with him on his out-of-possession stuff and his movements to create space. He’s got a fantastic attitude, though, and he wants to learn.”
Lewis Johnson – Winger
Lee Collier: “Lewis is predominantly wide player, but can play anywhere across the front. He’s a good finisher and a good athlete. He works hard off the ball and likes to do the not so glamorous side of the game. Just before Lockdown, we were really starting to see him grow as a player – in the last two games he was probably our best player. He’s come back in really good condition.”
Charlie Smith – Defender
Lee Collier: “Charlie is a an out-and-out defender, who loves to defend. He has really key defensive attributes, who is excellent in one-versus-one situations. That can be quite rare in Academy players. He needs to brush up technically and, being full-time now, that will help him along with that. He has a fantastic attitude too, which will help him.”
MK Dons Under-18s 2020/21 squad
Tom Carter - Second-year
Malaki Black - Second-year
Jack Davies - Second-year
Harry Riley - Second-year
Charlie Smith - First-year
Joshua Bailey - Second-year
Max Crane - Second-year
Rio Deall - Second-year
Tali Jallow - Second-year
Tom Rowley - Second-year
James Holmes - Second-year
Ryan Holmes – First-year
Brooklyn Ilunga – First-year
Lewis Johnson - First-year